Spirituality without God

sprtslvr1973

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http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/24/can-we-please-get-god-out-of-religion.html
 

Arachne

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Skordalia without garlic. No spice, and no health benefits.
 

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This author seems to have more trouble with the idea of an afterlife (since he claims, in zero-sum fashion, that it is a form of escapism that distracts us from our duties in this life) than he does with the idea of God per se.

There are belief systems that don't include an afterlife; the Sadducees (who were condemned by Jesus for not believing in the resurrection), the Karaites (a modern-day analogue), and the African Hebrew Israelites.
 

LenInSebastopol

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The insane and absurd idiots publishing widely and more often.
So with that, and according to author Miller, I personally believe in George Clooney, he saved the woman who saved herself in the space ship. A bit sexist, but that's OK as she's a woman.

The parts that screamed at me:

"can the (spiritual) teachings still have merit? As long as the practices encourage one’s innate spirituality the answer is yes"

and
"The looming question just over the horizon centers on how millennials will educate their children religiously. Because if a generation of devout Christians could not convince their children to keep the faith, then there must be no hope for religious salvation for the children of a generation that indifferently shrugs its shoulders at God."

and
"Miller proposes that spirituality—which she describes as religion minus the belief in dogma, the veneration of prophets and deities, and the fixation on the afterlife—is an innate human trait that needs to be encouraged and developed. Through extensive research, Miller asserts that spirituality encourages children to believe in something greater and more powerful than themselves, and as a result they develop more resilience and less anxiety throughout life."

I may not be able to receive today as this kind of folderol really inflames passions.
Outta here.

 

wgw

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Minnesotan said:
This author seems to have more trouble with the idea of an afterlife (since he claims, in zero-sum fashion, that it is a form of escapism that distracts us from our duties in this life) than he does with the idea of God per se.

There are belief systems that don't include an afterlife; the Sadducees (who were condemned by Jesus for not believing in the resurrection), the Karaites (a modern-day analogue), and the African Hebrew Israelites.
Regarding the Karaites, I am afraid you are slightly in error.  They believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead at the last day; this appears to be the chief distinction between them and the Sadducees.  There is also from what I understand a lack of consensus among scholars about the degree to which the Sadducees did not believe in the afterlife, but there also seems to be a consensus that the ancient Hebrew culture did not believe in an afterlife per se.  The Samaritans, who only follow a slightly altered version of the Torah or Pentateuch, with a radically different Book of Joshua, do believe in the resurrection of the dead.

I have a great enthusiasm for the Karaites because as I see it they preserve an ancient form of Judaism bereft of the Talmud, which grew out of the scrupulous legalism of the Pharisees and the glut of unwritten traditions they observed, which as our Lord often pointed out, contradicted the plain meaning of scripture.

That may sound like a strange thing for an Orthodox Christian to say, but our Holy Tradition is not legalistic, and in my opinion, is not at odds with scripture, but rather represents a clear and consistent interpretation of it, which by virtue of our knowledge of Christ as the redeemer, is far more internally consistent than the creaking monstrosity of an exegesis the Pharisees scrambled to peoduce after the loss of the temple and the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt.
 

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wgw said:
Minnesotan said:
This author seems to have more trouble with the idea of an afterlife (since he claims, in zero-sum fashion, that it is a form of escapism that distracts us from our duties in this life) than he does with the idea of God per se.

There are belief systems that don't include an afterlife; the Sadducees (who were condemned by Jesus for not believing in the resurrection), the Karaites (a modern-day analogue), and the African Hebrew Israelites.
Regarding the Karaites, I am afraid you are slightly in error.  They believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead at the last day; this appears to be the chief distinction between them and the Sadducees.  There is also from what I understand a lack of consensus among scholars about the degree to which the Sadducees did not believe in the afterlife, but there also seems to be a consensus that the ancient Hebrew culture did not believe in an afterlife per se.  The Samaritans, who only follow a slightly altered version of the Torah or Pentateuch, with a radically different Book of Joshua, do believe in the resurrection of the dead.

I have a great enthusiasm for the Karaites because as I see it they preserve an ancient form of Judaism bereft of the Talmud, which grew out of the scrupulous legalism of the Pharisees and the glut of unwritten traditions they observed, which as our Lord often pointed out, contradicted the plain meaning of scripture.

That may sound like a strange thing for an Orthodox Christian to say, but our Holy Tradition is not legalistic, and in my opinion, is not at odds with scripture, but rather represents a clear and consistent interpretation of it, which by virtue of our knowledge of Christ as the redeemer, is far more internally consistent than the creaking monstrosity of an exegesis the Pharisees scrambled to peoduce after the loss of the temple and the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt.
Interesting; I had always just assumed the Karaites were just modern-day Sadducees but it looks like there's more to the story than that.
 

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Minnesotan said:
wgw said:
Minnesotan said:
This author seems to have more trouble with the idea of an afterlife (since he claims, in zero-sum fashion, that it is a form of escapism that distracts us from our duties in this life) than he does with the idea of God per se.

There are belief systems that don't include an afterlife; the Sadducees (who were condemned by Jesus for not believing in the resurrection), the Karaites (a modern-day analogue), and the African Hebrew Israelites.
Regarding the Karaites, I am afraid you are slightly in error.  They believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead at the last day; this appears to be the chief distinction between them and the Sadducees.  There is also from what I understand a lack of consensus among scholars about the degree to which the Sadducees did not believe in the afterlife, but there also seems to be a consensus that the ancient Hebrew culture did not believe in an afterlife per se.  The Samaritans, who only follow a slightly altered version of the Torah or Pentateuch, with a radically different Book of Joshua, do believe in the resurrection of the dead.

I have a great enthusiasm for the Karaites because as I see it they preserve an ancient form of Judaism bereft of the Talmud, which grew out of the scrupulous legalism of the Pharisees and the glut of unwritten traditions they observed, which as our Lord often pointed out, contradicted the plain meaning of scripture.

That may sound like a strange thing for an Orthodox Christian to say, but our Holy Tradition is not legalistic, and in my opinion, is not at odds with scripture, but rather represents a clear and consistent interpretation of it, which by virtue of our knowledge of Christ as the redeemer, is far more internally consistent than the creaking monstrosity of an exegesis the Pharisees scrambled to peoduce after the loss of the temple and the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt.
Interesting; I had always just assumed the Karaites were just modern-day Sadducees but it looks like there's more to the story than that.
Indeed, they are by no means modern day Sadducees.  Sadduceanism is dead, along with all other ancient Jewish sects except for Pharisaism, which evolved into Rabinnical Judaism.  The Karaites objected to the Rabbis and their teachings and rejected them.  The Crimean Karaites or Kazars embraced Karaite Judaism but have since developed a distinct ethnoreligious identity and are quite different from the Egyptian Karaites who make up most of Israel's Karaite population, and who also operate a synagogue in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here is their website: http://www.karaites.org/synagogue.html

Note that the Karaites suffer severe discrimination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel because they reject the Talmud.  Thus they are on my list of endangered religious minorities of the Middle East.
 

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I really don't see how religion even works without at least being open to submission to God, holy men and women, and an afterlife. It seems like it's just yoga or EST otherwise (this among other reasons is why I don't consider Scientology to be a religion).

That being said, someone like Freeman Dyson who is at least concerned with seeking God in the midst of his agnosticism seems to me to be a bit closer to the kingdom of God than a thorough going materialist. Though the author doesn't seem to be in that camp.


(since he claims, in zero-sum fashion, that it is a form of escapism that distracts us from our duties in this life)
Well, to be fair, this is an understandable impression when there's so many Christians who seem to reject all attempts to make the world a better place as Communist plots.
 

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My guess is Christianity makes this world better now unlike the "nones" who spiritually are gentiles who depend on themselves God promises to look after us if we seek first His kingdom like He provided for Solomon and nature
Then we will lend to many nations and not borrow
We must still work but God will open doors no man can shut
Maybe that is what Jesus meant by how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom
Because they trust in their own human arm for survival and riches but the bible says it is God who richly gives us all things to enjoy
Psalm 1 says the righteous man prospers in all things they ask and receive because they will not spend it on their pleasures but will store their treasure in heaven

Or maybe when Jesus said to seek first the kingdom He just meant believe in Him otherwise how can one pursue a career in for example game development which requires a lot of your time or should christians not pursue any time consuming career or is it possible to dedicate oneself to a career and the church at the same time ? But dedicating oneself to Gods house has a promise of God providing for our needs and giving us enough money and so career Perhaps should not be first or is it under the category of pursuit of riches ? Our career should be just to find work to get money but does that mean christians can't be inventors of anything if it takes too much of their time ?

Psalm 92
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
 

wgw

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Volnutt said:
I really don't see how religion even works without at least being open to submission to God, holy men and women, and an afterlife. It seems like it's just yoga or EST otherwise (this among other reasons is why I don't consider Scientology to be a religion).

That being said, someone like Freeman Dyson who is at least concerned with seeking God in the midst of his agnosticism seems to me to be a bit closer to the kingdom of God than a thorough going materialist. Though the author doesn't seem to be in that camp.


(since he claims, in zero-sum fashion, that it is a form of escapism that distracts us from our duties in this life)
Well, to be fair, this is an understandable impression when there's so many Christians who seem to reject all attempts to make the world a better place as Communist plots.
Buddhism in its more austere forms does not posit the existence of a central omnipotent deity; once enlightenment is obtained, it appears to promise the lack of an afterlife, or rather of reincarnation.  This promise, also extended by Jainism, which is likewise a non-theist religion, and to a lesser extent Hinduism, which is usually pantheistic in most of its myriad flavors, comes as a great comfort to those in Southeast Asia, who are utterly convinced of the reality of reincarnation and to a large extent dread it.  I get the sense that for some practitioners of these faiths, the thought of being born again with the loss of their memory and enduring life's struggles, again, is worse than death, which would accord with the Orthodox Christian viewpoint expressed IIRC in the Orthodox Study Bible, that God established the maximum 120 year lifespan as a mercy, to limit the amount of suffering we might experience as a result of sin.  However, our religion promises salvation of our souls, resurrection of our bodies, and glorification through Theosis, as opposed to mere oblivion (some forms of Buddhism like the Pure Land school also offer a happy outcome for the enlightened, but others say that the state of the enlightened after death is incomprehensible and outside of all ontological categories, or simply one of oblivion).
 

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Right. I guess I should say that I don't know how religion works without some concept of a higher reality whether or not said reality is a person. For example, the comics writer Grant Morrison is an atheist yet he also believes in numerous levels of reality (apparently including ones in which comic book characters are real) that can be accessed via drugs and meditation. He also claims to have been taught a song by the ghost of John Lennon.

I consider him to be religious despite his atheism.
 

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"Levels of reality"....interesting phrase....is a baseball bat upside the head such?
Hung up reading Wolfhart Pannenberg not that I understand what he wrote, but on the notion that God, the Ultimate Reality, is here/now working via everything, so much so that there are "levels of reality" we choose, or not, to see.
Of course, if I were his student, I'd be getting a D in his class, although I understand the titles like Faith and Reality, or The Apostles' Creed in Light of Today's Questions.
You know how those Lutherans rock to far out.
 

wgw

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I would argue Communism to be a religion because it has what you seem to call a higher reality, only this is expressed in a belief in the Party and the invincibility of the Proletariat, an eschatology in the form "how things will be after the revolution", a cult of personality around the leaders, formal liturgy ranging from specific styles of military parades to the Soviet marriage ceremony, the veneration of the embalmed body of deceased leaders who seem to acquire the status of saints, and so on.

And I think the proof of it is the Jonestown Massacre; the media described Jim Jones as a cult leader, which he was; he was a "reverend" by virtue of having been an ordained minister of the Disciples of Christ, which he later left; the People's Temple had a religious veneer, but at the core he was essentially a communist, and all the rhetoric that led to the suicide, that is on tape, in fact everything we have records of him saying to his followers in Jonestown, is practically party line Bolshevik rhetoric.  His last will and testament directed that, since Jonestown had failed, their financial assets were to be given to the Communist Party of the USSR.

So et voila, Communism, the atheist religion par excellence, complete with denominations (Maoism, Trotskyism), sacred books (Das Kapital, The Little Red Book), saints, liturgy, eschatology, cosmology, and suicidal fanatics. For the people who are members of tiny Hoxhaist communist parties in the UK and the US which have no chance of igniting a revolution, winning an election or even influencing the political process, it is most obviously a religion.  But even when I volunteered for one of the Big Two US political parties in my younger days, there was a certain religious mindset, it's just in communism this takes over, combines with the Arheism, which is really to prohibit syncretism with another belief system, and morphs into a fanatical religion like Islam,,masquerading as a political movement.
 

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wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion because it has what you seem to call a higher reality, only this is expressed in a belief in the Party and the invincibility of the Proletariat, an eschatology in the form "how things will be after the revolution", a cult of personality around the leaders, formal liturgy ranging from specific styles of military parades to the Soviet marriage ceremony, the veneration of the embalmed body of deceased leaders who seem to acquire the status of saints, and so on.

And I think the proof of it is the Jonestown Massacre; the media described Jim Jones as a cult leader, which he was; he was a "reverend" by virtue of having been an ordained minister of the Disciples of Christ, which he later left; the People's Temple had a religious veneer, but at the core he was essentially a communist, and all the rhetoric that led to the suicide, that is on tape, in fact everything we have records of him saying to his followers in Jonestown, is practically party line Bolshevik rhetoric.  His last will and testament directed that, since Jonestown had failed, their financial assets were to be given to the Communist Party of the USSR.

So et voila, Communism, the atheist religion par excellence, complete with denominations (Maoism, Trotskyism), sacred books (Das Kapital, The Little Red Book), saints, liturgy, eschatology, cosmology, and suicidal fanatics. For the people who are members of tiny Hoxhaist communist parties in the UK and the US which have no chance of igniting a revolution, winning an election or even influencing the political process, it is most obviously a religion.  But even when I volunteered for one of the Big Two US political parties in my younger days, there was a certain religious mindset, it's just in communism this takes over, combines with the Arheism, which is really to prohibit syncretism with another belief system, and morphs into a fanatical religion like Islam,,masquerading as a political movement.
Well, I stand corrected and enlightened.
However, it appears, sir, you have a hammer so all else looks as if a nail. If one uses the paradigm and discipline of Sports, could we not draw similar word-pictures? Of course you are right as one who studies "Ultimate Realities" and Religion is the best yet fulfilling man's needs more than Science, Sports, Entertainment and all the other madness' folks pursue. I like yours best, but that is only because we agree and you lay it out well. Be advised, I know guys that think Sports, for example, are the Ultimate, just as I've met scientists that find their discipline to be the cat's pj's, and nothing more.
I write such drivel as one time a while back I looked at a bug.......and realized there are different life forms, really different....no, REALLY........
 

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Well I think sports can serve some irreligious people as a sort of substitute for religion, a lousy one, hence all the drinking, but the football hooligans of the UK come to mind.  I mean, if your team loses, why get hammered out of your mind and then go about overturning cars?  I think we ought to look at how sports gives meaning to people's lives and view it anthropologically in light of some primitive religious observances, like some rowdy Shinto festivals in Japan.  I believe religion is ubiquitous, and Pauls warning about staying clear of idols was by no means just about avoiding the images of Jupiter, Neptune and other pagan dieties that graced the cities of the Roman Empire.
 

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He forgets that it was Jesus who told us not to care too much about the future and focus on the present. Lucky him, God is not in the business of suing for copyrights.
 

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wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion because it has what you seem to call a higher reality, only this is expressed in a belief in the Party and the invincibility of the Proletariat, an eschatology in the form "how things will be after the revolution", a cult of personality around the leaders, formal liturgy ranging from specific styles of military parades to the Soviet marriage ceremony, the veneration of the embalmed body of deceased leaders who seem to acquire the status of saints, and so on.

And I think the proof of it is the Jonestown Massacre; the media described Jim Jones as a cult leader, which he was; he was a "reverend" by virtue of having been an ordained minister of the Disciples of Christ, which he later left; the People's Temple had a religious veneer, but at the core he was essentially a communist, and all the rhetoric that led to the suicide, that is on tape, in fact everything we have records of him saying to his followers in Jonestown, is practically party line Bolshevik rhetoric.  His last will and testament directed that, since Jonestown had failed, their financial assets were to be given to the Communist Party of the USSR.

So et voila, Communism, the atheist religion par excellence, complete with denominations (Maoism, Trotskyism), sacred books (Das Kapital, The Little Red Book), saints, liturgy, eschatology, cosmology, and suicidal fanatics. For the people who are members of tiny Hoxhaist communist parties in the UK and the US which have no chance of igniting a revolution, winning an election or even influencing the political process, it is most obviously a religion.  But even when I volunteered for one of the Big Two US political parties in my younger days, there was a certain religious mindset, it's just in communism this takes over, combines with the Arheism, which is really to prohibit syncretism with another belief system, and morphs into a fanatical religion like Islam,,masquerading as a political movement.
One professor has suggested that the most interesting place in the world right now in terms of religion is not the Middle East, but rather Silicon Valley which is currently developing its own, technology-centered "religion".
 

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sprtslvr1973 said:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/24/can-we-please-get-god-out-of-religion.html
The spirituality is from God, He give the soul, give and the word. All is from God.
 

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wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion
Communism/Socialism is a strategy to power and oppression, not a religion. Everything else in it is just a tool, a convenient tactic. That's how reddies feel very confortable promoting feminism in the West, and defending Islam cultural legitimacy at the same time and see no contradiction or remorse. Both are *useful* for the strategy of destroying their enemies and that is what makes both "good".

A person is communist or a socialist as long as they take part in that strategy willingfully, even if they don't agree with any worldview or principle in particular. The religious-like aspect of some expressions of communism/socialism are just tactical tools. Once they cease being useful they can be labeled as the new "right" or "fascism" or "state capitalism" or "not revolutionary enough" and be fought against by a new group or generation of reddies.
 

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Minnesotan said:
wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion because it has what you seem to call a higher reality, only this is expressed in a belief in the Party and the invincibility of the Proletariat, an eschatology in the form "how things will be after the revolution", a cult of personality around the leaders, formal liturgy ranging from specific styles of military parades to the Soviet marriage ceremony, the veneration of the embalmed body of deceased leaders who seem to acquire the status of saints, and so on.

And I think the proof of it is the Jonestown Massacre; the media described Jim Jones as a cult leader, which he was; he was a "reverend" by virtue of having been an ordained minister of the Disciples of Christ, which he later left; the People's Temple had a religious veneer, but at the core he was essentially a communist, and all the rhetoric that led to the suicide, that is on tape, in fact everything we have records of him saying to his followers in Jonestown, is practically party line Bolshevik rhetoric.  His last will and testament directed that, since Jonestown had failed, their financial assets were to be given to the Communist Party of the USSR.

So et voila, Communism, the atheist religion par excellence, complete with denominations (Maoism, Trotskyism), sacred books (Das Kapital, The Little Red Book), saints, liturgy, eschatology, cosmology, and suicidal fanatics. For the people who are members of tiny Hoxhaist communist parties in the UK and the US which have no chance of igniting a revolution, winning an election or even influencing the political process, it is most obviously a religion.  But even when I volunteered for one of the Big Two US political parties in my younger days, there was a certain religious mindset, it's just in communism this takes over, combines with the Arheism, which is really to prohibit syncretism with another belief system, and morphs into a fanatical religion like Islam,,masquerading as a political movement.
One professor has suggested that the most interesting place in the world right now in terms of religion is not the Middle East, but rather Silicon Valley which is currently developing its own, technology-centered "religion".
I have first hand experience with that religion.  It's especially prominemt among Linux users.  Go to the meetings of any Linux User Group for a taste, it's more intemse than Apple worship.  Or read Slashdot or the website of Eric S. Raymond, especially the Jargon File. His treatise on "Hacker Culture", or excerpts from The Cathedral and the Bazaar.  http://www.catb.org/esr/
 

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Fabio Leite said:
wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion
Communism/Socialism is a strategy to power and oppression, not a religion. Everything else in it is just a tool, a convenient tactic. That's how reddies feel very confortable promoting feminism in the West, and defending Islam cultural legitimacy at the same time and see no contradiction or remorse. Both are *useful* for the strategy of destroying their enemies and that is what makes both "good".

A person is communist or a socialist as long as they take part in that strategy willingfully, even if they don't agree with any worldview or principle in particular. The religious-like aspect of some expressions of communism/socialism are just tactical tools. Once they cease being useful they can be labeled as the new "right" or "fascism" or "state capitalism" or "not revolutionary enough" and be fought against by a new group or generation of reddies.
Historically yes.  But the tiny Trotskyist or Hoxhaist or Maoist political parties in the US and the UK are unelectable, miniscule, and serve a primarily religious purpose.  Mainstream communism remains a political force in some places, but the Hoxhaists for example denounce it utterly as "revisionist", the Trotskyites as "thermidorean", et cetera, and such groups and are unlikely to ever again be in political power anywhere.  Several religions were once sociopolitical movements; I would argue that Zoroastrianism is an example of such, and Confucianism is the social movement turned religion par excellence.

For that matter, some religions have almost uniformly taken up sociopolitical positions.  The Turkish Alevis and the Baha'i faith spring to mind; the former largely for their own survival, but the Baha'i Faith is as much of a hard centrist, pro world government political party as it is a religion.  Because the concept of world government was one of the doctrines taught by Bahuallah.  However in other respects the Baha'is are quite conservative, for example, on homosexuality, the denial of women from membership in the Universal House of Justice, and they also hold the rather extreme view that arsonists should be burned alive.
 

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wgw said:
Fabio Leite said:
wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion
Communism/Socialism is a strategy to power and oppression, not a religion. Everything else in it is just a tool, a convenient tactic. That's how reddies feel very confortable promoting feminism in the West, and defending Islam cultural legitimacy at the same time and see no contradiction or remorse. Both are *useful* for the strategy of destroying their enemies and that is what makes both "good".

A person is communist or a socialist as long as they take part in that strategy willingfully, even if they don't agree with any worldview or principle in particular. The religious-like aspect of some expressions of communism/socialism are just tactical tools. Once they cease being useful they can be labeled as the new "right" or "fascism" or "state capitalism" or "not revolutionary enough" and be fought against by a new group or generation of reddies.
Historically yes.  But the tiny Trotskyist or Hoxhaist or Maoist political parties in the US and the UK are unelectable, miniscule, and serve a primarily religious purpose.  Mainstream communism remains a political force in some places, but the Hoxhaists for example denounce it utterly as "revisionist", the Trotskyites as "thermidorean", et cetera, and such groups and are unlikely to ever again be in political power anywhere.  Several religions were once sociopolitical movements; I would argue that Zoroastrianism is an example of such, and Confucianism is the social movement turned religion par excellence.

For that matter, some religions have almost uniformly taken up sociopolitical positions.  The Turkish Alevis and the Baha'i faith spring to mind; the former largely for their own survival, but the Baha'i Faith is as much of a hard centrist, pro world government political party as it is a religion.  Because the concept of world government was one of the doctrines taught by Bahuallah.  However in other respects the Baha'is are quite conservative, for example, on homosexuality, the denial of women from membership in the Universal House of Justice, and they also hold the rather extreme view that arsonists should be burned alive.
Well, I don't know much about the communist movement in the US, but this I heard: Stalin's orders for those infiltrated in the US was to avoid the communist parties and instead focus on the wealthy elites and the cultural elites. They were not to be made communists per se but "road companions", that is, Lenin's "capitalists who will sell us the rope with which we will hang them". The rich had to finance the URSS - and there is good literature on how American big capital went to the Soviets - and the cultural elites did not have to propagate pro-socialist ideas, but anti-american ones would be enough.

Even today American elites are the largest financers of progressive "foundations" and "organizations" around the world and most of the Anti-American discourse around the world was amplified by the American universities and cultural industry itself. And not one of those involved in it had to have a belief in anything remotely marxist to do it.
 

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If it doesn't have a supernatural element, it's not a religion but a philosophy or ideology.
 

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Fabio Leite said:
wgw said:
Fabio Leite said:
wgw said:
I would argue Communism to be a religion
Communism/Socialism is a strategy to power and oppression, not a religion. Everything else in it is just a tool, a convenient tactic. That's how reddies feel very confortable promoting feminism in the West, and defending Islam cultural legitimacy at the same time and see no contradiction or remorse. Both are *useful* for the strategy of destroying their enemies and that is what makes both "good".

A person is communist or a socialist as long as they take part in that strategy willingfully, even if they don't agree with any worldview or principle in particular. The religious-like aspect of some expressions of communism/socialism are just tactical tools. Once they cease being useful they can be labeled as the new "right" or "fascism" or "state capitalism" or "not revolutionary enough" and be fought against by a new group or generation of reddies.
Historically yes.  But the tiny Trotskyist or Hoxhaist or Maoist political parties in the US and the UK are unelectable, miniscule, and serve a primarily religious purpose.  Mainstream communism remains a political force in some places, but the Hoxhaists for example denounce it utterly as "revisionist", the Trotskyites as "thermidorean", et cetera, and such groups and are unlikely to ever again be in political power anywhere.  Several religions were once sociopolitical movements; I would argue that Zoroastrianism is an example of such, and Confucianism is the social movement turned religion par excellence.

For that matter, some religions have almost uniformly taken up sociopolitical positions.  The Turkish Alevis and the Baha'i faith spring to mind; the former largely for their own survival, but the Baha'i Faith is as much of a hard centrist, pro world government political party as it is a religion.  Because the concept of world government was one of the doctrines taught by Bahuallah.  However in other respects the Baha'is are quite conservative, for example, on homosexuality, the denial of women from membership in the Universal House of Justice, and they also hold the rather extreme view that arsonists should be burned alive.
Well, I don't know much about the communist movement in the US, but this I heard: Stalin's orders for those infiltrated in the US was to avoid the communist parties and instead focus on the wealthy elites and the cultural elites. They were not to be made communists per se but "road companions", that is, Lenin's "capitalists who will sell us the rope with which we will hang them". The rich had to finance the URSS - and there is good literature on how American big capital went to the Soviets - and the cultural elites did not have to propagate pro-socialist ideas, but anti-american ones would be enough.

Even today American elites are the largest financers of progressive "foundations" and "organizations" around the world and most of the Anti-American discourse around the world was amplified by the American universities and cultural industry itself. And not one of those involved in it had to have a belief in anything remotely marxist to do it.
Agreed.  But the tiny Hoxhaist parties for example are not a part of this plan.  They're just a subculture that appears to exist just as a sort of religion.
 

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It has become far too common for far too long to try and turn Jesus into a mere philosopher or moral teacher.  This reduces the entire new testament to the Sermon on the Mount and maybe a handful of parables (though most will reject the more difficult of those).  And this is most sad because it simply puts him on equal ground with hundreds of other people who have came before and since.  It isn't like the moral teachings of Christ were unique.

I don't know many people who would disagree that being nice to people is a good idea.  But this is not spirituality its called not being a jerk.
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
If it doesn't have a supernatural element, it's not a religion but a philosophy or ideology.
There was a great deal of Communist metaphysical speculation into the concept of a Hive Mind.  And there was a Communist biologist who openly falsified his findings in order to promote communist ideology through his erroneous studies into the behavior of animals.  I can't recall his name or the exact details, but I can look it up if you wish.  Also many ancient philosophies really blurred the line.  There was a string supernatural element in Plato, and the works of Plato inspired religious practices and ideals among the Greeks.  Like the Cult of the Unknown God.  Consider also the Cult of Reason and the Cult of the Suoreme Being.

For that matter, Buddhism and Jainism in their purest form are non Theist.  And Confucianism is a philosophy as much if not more than a religion, albeit one that like Plato contains religious ideas.  Confucianism also adds a system of divination and rituals.  But it is still widely regarded as a philosophy.  The Greeks for that matter saw Zoroaster as a philosopher.

And consider the influence of philosophy on religion: Plato on Orthodoxy, Aristotle on Islam and zRoman Catholicism, Materialism, Modernism, Postmodernism and Deconstructionism on liberal Christianity.  I don't think you can separate philosophy from religion at all as far as metaphysics are concerned.  My father, as a professor of the philosophy of law and political philosophy, hated metaphysics,  he takes his religion in Church and keeps it separate from his work.  But for a huge range of philosophers like Kant, Nietsche and so on, religious ideas and the acceptance or rejection of their work are key.  I just don't think there is a bright line distinction between faith and philosophy.  Look for that matter at St. Justin Martyr's Dialogue With Trypho, which began as a discussion of philosophy.
 

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homedad76 said:
It has become far too common for far too long to try and turn Jesus into a mere philosopher or moral teacher.  This reduces the entire new testament to the Sermon on the Mount and maybe a handful of parables (though most will reject the more difficult of those).  And this is most sad because it simply puts him on equal ground with hundreds of other people who have came before and since.  It isn't like the moral teachings of Christ were unique.

I don't know many people who would disagree that being nice to people is a good idea.  But this is not spirituality its called not being a jerk.
Unitarianism or Soccinianism is a grave heresy, indeed.  Although Jesus, though a God Man, was also unquestionably the world's greatest philosopher, or rather more than that, because rather than merely speculating and then teaching, he authoritatively defined correct thought.  So he isa philosopher in the sense that he loves our thought, but he himself did not need to come up with his teachings, as the Word of God, he is Truth, and thus his pronouncements are the answer to all philosophical speculation that coincides with them.
 

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The boundary between religion and philosophy is indeed fuzzy. Most categorical boundaries are fuzzy in reality: the world does not conform to the neat divisions of the legalistic mind. But I think it's still useful to make belief in the supernatural the sine qua non of religion.
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
The boundary between religion and philosophy is indeed fuzzy. Most categorical boundaries are fuzzy in reality: the world does not conform to the neat divisions of the legalistic mind. But I think it's still useful to make belief in the supernatural the sine qua non of religion.
I agree.  It also reminds me of those who confuse the church with a charitable organization.  While obviously we are called to aid the poor and those in need the first purpose of the Church is worship.  I know the RC church gets much more flack over this but I would venture to guess Orthodox churches get their share as well.  And of course I am not equating this with the evangelical churches who mandate a tithe that goes primarily to the pastor's personal bank account.
 

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homedad76 said:
Jonathan Gress said:
The boundary between religion and philosophy is indeed fuzzy. Most categorical boundaries are fuzzy in reality: the world does not conform to the neat divisions of the legalistic mind. But I think it's still useful to make belief in the supernatural the sine qua non of religion.
I agree.  It also reminds me of those who confuse the church with a charitable organization.  While obviously we are called to aid the poor and those in need the first purpose of the Church is worship.  I know the RC church gets much more flack over this but I would venture to guess Orthodox churches get their share as well.  And of course I am not equating this with the evangelical churches who mandate a tithe that goes primarily to the pastor's personal bank account.
You bring up an problem I've been having of late: what percentage goes to widows & orphans, etc.?
I went to a generic Protestant church for years and they gave 18% to valid charities. That church building was nice but bare, and lacked the lovely elements prevalent in my beautiful temple.
Which causes me to pause.......
 
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